Airlines face tougher carbon emissions scheme

Euro MPs have voted to toughen the European carbon emissions trading scheme and include airlines from 2011 rather than delay entry to 2012 as proposed by the European Commission.

MEPs on the environment committee of the European parliament voted yesterday for a series of measures they believe will add £8 to fares on flights within Europe and £32 on fares to the US.

The emissions trading scheme aims already exists for heavy industry, including energy companies, which trade carbon credits on a market – with the heavy polluters forced to buy credits to cover their emissions. The scheme aims to reward companies that cut their CO2 emissions at the expense of those that do not.

If adopted, the latest measures would make European airlines pay at auction for 25% of the credits to cover their emissions, rather than the 3% proposed by the Commission. The bulk of credits would continue to be free.

The cap on airline emissions would also be set at 90% of levels between 2004 and 2005, rather than 100% as the airlines want – with the carriers compelled to pay for emissions above that level.

The MEPs’ vote was roundly condemned by aviation industry bodies. However, the proposals have not only to go the European Parliament but cannot be passed without the agreement of the Council of Ministers and both it and the European Commission appear opposed.

British Airways has admitted its annual CO2 emissions have risen by more than 500,000 tonnes since 2005.

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